Taliban video update
The commander of an Army unit involved in combat operations in eastern Afghanistan is challenging a recent report by the Open Source Center, first reported in this space last week, that analyzed a Taliban propaganda video supposedly about the pitched Oct. 3 battle between U.S. forces and the Taliban at a remote combat outpost (COP) near Kamdesh in eastern Afghanistan.
The battle led to the deaths of eight U.S. soldiers and came days before U.S. forces abandoned the outpost in a planned redeployment.
“The video in question does not contain one second of film footage from the actual attack on COP Keating,” said Army Lt. Col. Robert B. “Brad” Brown, commander of the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, based in Forward Operating Base Bostick in Kunar province.
The Nov. 30 report by the Open Source Center, part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, stated that the Taliban video purported to show combat video of the capture by the insurgents of a U.S. military base “in the Kamdesh district” of Nuristan province. The narrator of the video mentions “Kamdesh” but does not give a date for the purported attack.
The center ’s repor t, Col. Brown stated in an e-mail to Inside the Ring, was “based on grossly flawed reports.”
Col. Brown said the attack sequences apparently were spliced together from video of an earlier Taliban attack on another base, COP Lowell in Kamu, Nuristan province. Based on the flow of the river shown in the video, the time frame probably was July, he said, adding that unlike the COP Keating attack, there were no U.S. casualties requiring medical evacuation.
“The sequences of insurgent leaders ‘touring’ a U.S. COP were taken more than a year ago on COP Lybert near Gowerdesh, Nuristan,” Col. Brown said.
Col. Brown said an Army unit that his group relieved in June — the 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division — withdrew from that outpost as part of a repositioning of forces to within a brigade area. “It was not in any way ‘taken,’ “ Col. Brown said. “The large box with ‘Lybert’ spray-painted on it should have been a clue.”
Col. Brown, who has been to both COP Keating and COP Lowell, said he reviewed the Taliban video and feels certain that none of the footage came from the actual Oct. 3 attack on Keating.
“The COP Lybert footage has been ‘released’ [by the Taliban] several times under different titles — in each case, analysts have repor ted the details through appropriate channels,” he said, noting that “appropriate channels” were informed about the center’s analysis of the propaganda video and were expected to inform the center.
Col. Brown said he contacted Inside the Ring not to criticize the Open Source Center but to correct the record.
Spokesmen for the DNI, which is responsible for the center, declined to comment.
Col. Brown said even a cursory analysis of the video by someone familiar with the combat positions would have revealed the Taliban lies. He noted that if the center had done a basic study of the propaganda video, the agency would have recognized it as “ham-fisted propaganda.”
An Army spokeswoman in Afghanistan, Maj. Virginia A. McCabe, deputy public affairs officer with the Combined Joint Task Force-82 and Regional Command East, said of the Taliban video that it “was inconclusive regarding where or when insurgents got the items” they claimed to have captured, including a U.S. automatic assault rifle shown in the video.
“Before departing the location, the units removed all sensitive items and accounted for them,” she said.
Maj. McCabe said the Army incorporates “communication actions and concerns into all our operations.”
“The Taliban uses communication tied with brutality to intimidate and control people and doesn’t worry about facts when distributing its messages,” she said.